Yomichan

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Yomichan turns your web browser into a tool for building Japanese language literacy by helping you to decipher texts which would be otherwise too difficult tackle. This extension is similar to Rikaichamp for Firefox and Rikaikun for Chrome, but it stands apart in its goal of being an all-encompassing learning tool as opposed to a mere browser-based dictionary.

Yomichan provides advanced features not available in other browser-based dictionaries:

Table of Contents

Installation

Yomichan comes in two flavors: stable and testing. Over the years, this extension has evolved to contain many complex features which have become increasingly difficult to test across different browsers, versions, and environments. New changes are initially introduced into the testing version, and after some time spent ensuring that they are relatively bug free, they will be promoted to the stable version. If you are technically savvy and don’t mind submitting issues on GitHub, try the testing version; otherwise, the stable version will be your best bet.

Dictionaries

There are several free Japanese dictionaries available for Yomichan, with two of them having glossaries available in different languages. You must download and import the dictionaries you wish to use in order to enable Yomichan definition lookups. If you have proprietary EPWING dictionaries that you would like to use, check the Yomichan Import page to learn how to convert and import them into Yomichan.

Be aware that the non-English dictionaries contain fewer entries than their English counterparts. Even if your primary language is not English, you may consider also importing the English version for better coverage.

Basic Usage

  1. Click on the icon in the browser toolbar to open the Yomichan actions dialog.

  2. Click on the spanner/monkey wrench icon in the middle to open the options page.

  3. Import the dictionaries you wish to use for term and kanji searches. If you do not have any dictionaries installed (or enabled), Yomichan will warn you that it is not ready for use by displaying an orange exclamation mark over its icon. This exclamation mark will disappear once you have installed and enabled at least one dictionary.

  4. Hold down the Shift key or the middle mouse button as you move your mouse over text to display a popup window containing term definitions. This window will only be shown if definitions were found and it can be dismissed by clicking anywhere outside of it.

  5. Click on the icon to hear the term pronounced by a native speaker. If an audio sample is not available, you will hear a short click instead. You can configure the sources used to retrieve audio samples in the options page.

  6. Click on individual kanji in the term definition results to view additional information about those characters, including stroke order diagrams, readings, meanings, as well as other useful data.

Custom Dictionaries

Yomichan supports the use of custom dictionaries, including the esoteric but popular EPWING format. They were often utilized in portable electronic dictionaries similar to the ones pictured below. These dictionaries are often sought after by language learners for their correctness and excellent coverage of the Japanese language.

Unfortunately, as most of the dictionaries released in this format are proprietary, they are unable to be bundled with Yomichan. Instead, you will need to procure these dictionaries yourself and import them using Yomichan Import. Check the project page for additional details.

Pocket EPWING dictionaries

Anki Integration

Yomichan features automatic flashcard creation for Anki, a free application designed to help you retain knowledge. This feature requires the prior installation of an Anki plugin called AnkiConnect. Check the respective project page for more information about how to set up this software.

Flashcard Configuration

Before flashcards can be automatically created, you must configure the templates used to create term and/or kanji notes. If you are unfamiliar with Anki deck and model management, this would be a good time to reference the Anki Manual. In short, you must specify what information should be included in the flashcards that Yomichan creates through AnkiConnect.

Flashcard fields can be configured with the following steps:

  1. Open the Yomichan options page and scroll down to the section labeled Anki Options.

  2. Tick the checkbox labeled Enable Anki integration (Anki must be running with AnkiConnect installed).

  3. Select the type of template to configure by clicking on either the Terms or Kanji tabs.

  4. Select the Anki deck and model to use for new creating new flashcards of this type.

  5. Fill the model fields with markers corresponding to the information you wish to include (several can be used at once). Advanced users can also configure the actual Handlebars templates used to create the flashcard contents (this is strictly optional).

    Markers for Term Cards

    MarkerDescription
    {audio}Audio sample of a native speaker’s pronunciation in MP3 format (if available).
    {cloze-body}Raw, inflected term as it appeared before being reduced to dictionary form by Yomichan.
    {cloze-prefix}Fragment of the containing {sentence} starting at the beginning of {sentence} until the beginning of {cloze-body}.
    {cloze-suffix}Fragment of the containing {sentence} starting at the end of {cloze-body} until the end of {sentence}.
    {dictionary}Name of the dictionary from which the card is being created (unavailable in grouped mode).
    {document-title}Title of the web page that the term appeared in.
    {expression}Term expressed as kanji (will be displayed in kana if kanji is not available).
    {furigana}Term expressed as kanji with furigana displayed above it (e.g. 日本語にほんご).
    {furigana-plain}Term expressed as kanji with furigana displayed next to it in brackets (e.g. 日本語[にほんご]).
    {glossary}List of definitions for the term (output format depends on whether running in grouped mode).
    {reading}Kana reading for the term (empty for terms where the expression is the reading).
    {screenshot}Screenshot of the web page taken at the time the term was added.
    {sentence}Sentence, quote, or phrase that the term appears in from the source content.
    {tags}Grammar and usage tags providing information about the term (unavailable in grouped mode).
    {url}Address of the web page in which the term appeared in.

    Markers for Kanji Cards

    MarkerDescription
    {character}Unicode glyph representing the current kanji.
    {cloze-body}Raw, inflected parent term as it appeared before being reduced to dictionary form by Yomichan.
    {cloze-prefix}Fragment of the containing {sentence} starting at the beginning of {sentence} until the beginning of {cloze-body}.
    {cloze-suffix}Fragment of the containing {sentence} starting at the end of {cloze-body} until the end of {sentence}.
    {dictionary}Name of the dictionary from which the card is being created.
    {document-title}Title of the web page that the kanji appeared in.
    {glossary}List of definitions for the kanji.
    {kunyomi}Kunyomi (Japanese reading) for the kanji expressed as katakana.
    {onyomi}Onyomi (Chinese reading) for the kanji expressed as hiragana.
    {screenshot}Screenshot of the web page taken at the time the kanji was added.
    {sentence}Sentence, quote, or phrase that the character appears in from the source content.
    {url}Address of the web page in which the kanji appeared in.

When creating your model for Yomichan, make sure that you pick a unique field to be first; fields that will contain {expression} or {character} are ideal candidates for this. Anki does not allow duplicate flashcards to be added to a deck by default; it uses the first field in the model to check for duplicates. For example, if you have {reading} configured to be the first field in your model and はし is already in your deck, you will not be able to create a flashcard for はし because they share the same reading.

Flashcard Creation

Once Yomichan is configured, it becomes trivial to create new flashcards with a single click. You will see the following icons next to term definitions:

Below are some troubleshooting tips you can try if you are unable to create new flashcards:

Keyboard Shortcuts

The following shortcuts are globally available:

ShortcutAction
Alt + InsertOpen search page.
Alt + DeleteToggle extension on/off.

The following shortcuts are available on search results:

ShortcutAction
EscCancel current search.
Alt + PgUpPage up through results.
Alt + PgDnPage down through results.
Alt + EndGo to last result.
Alt + HomeGo to first result.
Alt + UpGo to previous result.
Alt + DownGo to next result.
Alt + bGo to back to source term.
Alt + eAdd current term as expression to Anki.
Alt + rAdd current term as reading to Anki.
Alt + pPlay audio for current term.
Alt + kAdd current kanji to Anki.

Development

As feature development and improvements to Yomichan can be time consuming, contributions are welcome from any developers who want to help out. Below are a few guidelines to ensure contributions have a good level of quality and consistency:

Dependencies

Yomichan uses several third-party libraries to function. Below are links to homepages, snapshots, and licenses of the exact versions packaged.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m having problems importing dictionaries in Firefox, what do I do?

Yomichan uses the cross-browser IndexedDB system for storing imported dictionary data into your user profile. Although everything “just works” in Chrome, depending on settings, Firefox users can run into problems due to browser bugs. Yomichan catches errors and tries to offer suggestions about how to work around Firefox issues, but in general at least one of the following solutions should work for you:

Why does the kanji results page display “No data found” for several fields?

You are using data from the KANJIDIC dictionary that was exported for an earlier version of Yomichan. It does not contain the additional information which newer versions of Yomichan expect. Unfortunately, since major browser implementations of IndexedDB do not provide reliable means for selective bulk data deletion, you will need to purge your database and install the latest version of the KANJIDIC to see additional information about characters.

Can I still create cards without HTML formatting? The option for it is gone!

Developing Yomichan is a constant balance between including useful features and keeping complexity at a minimum. With the new user-editable card template system, it is possible to create text-only cards without having to double the number of field templates in the extension itself. If you would like to stop HTML tags from being added to your cards, simply copy the contents of the text-only field template into the template box on the Anki settings page (make sure you have the Show advanced options checkbox ticked), making sure to replace the existing values.

Will you add support for online dictionaries?

Online dictionaries will not be implemented because it is not possible to support them in a robust way. In order to perform Japanese deinflection, Yomichan must execute dozens of database queries for every single word. Factoring in network latency and the fragility of web scraping, it would not be possible to maintain a good and consistent user experience.

Is it possible to use Yomichan with files saved locally on my computer with Chrome?

In order to use Yomichan with local files in Chrome, you must first tick the Allow access to file URLs checkbox for Yomichan on the extensions page. Due to the restrictions placed on browser addons in the WebExtensions model, it will likely never be possible to use Yomichan with PDF files.

Is it possible to delete individual dictionaries without purging the database?

Yomichan is able to delete individual dictionaries, but keep in mind that this process can be very slow and can cause the browser to become unresponsive. The time it takes to delete a single dictionary can sometimes be roughly the same as the time it originally took to import, which can be significant for certain large dictionaries.

Why aren’t EPWING dictionaries bundled with Yomichan?

The vast majority of EPWING dictionaries are proprietary, so they are unfortunately not able to be included in this extension due to copyright reasons.

When are you going to add support for $MYLANGUAGE?

Developing Yomichan requires a decent understanding of Japanese sentence structure and grammar, and other languages are likely to have their own unique set of rules for syntax, grammar, inflection, and so on. Supporting additional languages would not only require many additional changes to the codebase, it would also incur significant maintenance overhead and knowledge demands for the developers. Therefore, suggestions and contributions for supporting new languages will be declined, allowing Yomichan’s focus to remain Japanese-centric.

Required licensing notices for this project follow below:

Screenshots

Term definitions Kanji information Dictionary options Anki options